A Cold AutumnThe last time we spoke was deep in the cold autumn of 1973, in front of a shuttered store on Front Street. I found him brushing crumbs from the lapel of his corduroy jacket with one hand and brandishing a crust of bread in the other. Tall and thin, with curly dark hair and horned-rim glasses, his appearance was intense and scholarly from across the road. Nose-to-nose, however, there was desperation in his eyes and spittle at the corner of his mouth. He tried to hold onto a coherent thought while asking me for money. I, his only son, turned him down and walked away. When he was found near the railroad crossing east of town, I was the one they called. The side entrance to the morgue was frost-covered and locked, but I remember turning to face gorgeous, metallic starlings wheeling and calling in bright shafts of morning light.
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